Green Right Now Reports
The EPA has come out with its list of the top 25 cities with the most Energy Star buildings for 2009.
The cities listed (there are really 27 because of a three-way tie for 24th place — let’s hope the EPA can do better math when it comes to calculating greenhouse gas emissions) include some you might expect, like San Francisco, a big city with a green bent, which made the top 10.
Also in the top ten, though, were a few metropolises not typically tagged for their eco-sensitivities, like that sprawling area on the prairie known as Dallas-Fort Worth, and that little bayou byway where all the oil gets refined, namely Houston.
Yes, buildings in Houston, Dallas and Lakeland, Florida, are getting greener, along with their Energy Star list mates, San Francisco, Denver and Portland.
Sure the rankings skew toward larger cities with more construction/remodeling projects. But they also reflect a renaissance of urban renewal going on in some cities, like Dallas, or city pledges to specifically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which is spurring green action in New York City. NYC moved up on the list this year, making it into the top 10.
The 2009 list counted new and remodeled buildings in the Energy Star program, which is similar to the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy Environment and Design (LEED) system. (The Energy Star program is more narrowly focused strictly on a building’s energy consumption whereas LEED grants points for other eco-friendly actions like installing bike racks, locating near train stations and other operational steps that reduce environmental impact).
It also appears that the variety of buildings getting the Energy Star stamp is broadening, as the concept of energy efficiency hits all business sectors.
These Energy Star stars include landmark skyscrapers, pioneering schools and hospitals. A few examples:
- 7 World Trade Center, LLC, in New York City. Developed and managed by Silverstein Properties, the 52-story office building also holds a Gold LEED certification and can boast of being the Big Apple’s first green certified office building. It opened in May 2006. Some of its cool features include water-chilled, self-contained air conditioners for tenant spaces.
- Milltown Primary School in Bridgewater, NJ. This was the first school in New Jersey to earn the Energy Star label and is part of the only district in New Jersey recognized by Energy Star for achieving a 10 percent improvement in energy efficiency in all its buildings. Student “SEE Squads” make regular building sweeps to make sure people are turning off the lights and monitors when they’re not in use. After two years of clamping down on energy consumption, the district has saved more than $780,000 in electricity and natural gas costs.
- Hamburger University in Chicago suburb Oak Brook This McDonald’s training facility, designed by architect Dirk Lohan, is one of three builidngs on a lushly landscaped wooded office campus with lakes, trails and more than 3,000 mature trees. The building has been upgraded with Variable Air Volume boxes that control the air flow, and use an economizer cycle in the spring and fall, employing outside air to cool the inside.
Employees are invited to participate in several environmental events during the year, such as cmposting, recycling and energy efficiency seminars; in 2009 attendance increased 35 percent.
- Rush Oak Park Hospital, also in Oak Park. Rush Oak Park Hospital, one of only two hospitals to earn the Energy Star label in 2009 (and one of just three Energy Star hospitals Illinois-wide) has charted energy performance that puts in among the top 25 percent of facilities nationwide. The circa 1907 hospital achieved this byconverting to fluorescent light bulbs, staggering equipment start-ups to reduce loads, using a smaller boiler when it was warmer than 30 degrees in the winter and using security staff to turn off unnecessary lights after visiting hours.
- Marin Montessori School in Corte Madera in the San Francisco Bay Area. This private school is 100 percent powered by PV solar panels, in part because energy audits resulted in a 25 percent reduction of energy needs through energy efficiency upgrades. It has a unique live energy monitor that can be seen online.
- One Embarcadero Center in San Francisco. Owned and managed by Boston Properties, this financial district building was completed in 1971. It includes a 45-story office tower atop three levels of retail shops and restaurants that includes a Multiplex Movie Theatre. The energy management team started in the early 1980′s to retrofit of lighting fixtures with optical reflectors that meant fewer lights were needed. That work continues. In 2008, the building received the Energy Star label and continued to make energy improvements, including using “cold cathode lamps” in retail areas; changing holiday lighting schemes and installing occupancy sensors in stairwells and parking garage fixtures.
Other landmark buildings with the Energy Star label include the Prudential Center in Boston; the Wrigley Building in Chicago; the Chrysler Building in mid-town New York and the Trans America Pyramid in San Francisco.
And now for the list of the top 25 cities with the most Energy Star buildings. The top city, LA, claims 293 Energy Star buildings; the last city on the list, Louisville, has 35.
- Los Angeles
- Washington D.C.
- San Francisco
- Lakeland, Fla.
- Dallas/Fort Worth
- New York, N.Y.
- San Diego
- Ogden, Utah
- Charlotte, N.C.
- Des Moines/Fort Collins/Philadelphia
- Louisville, Kty.